Physical development in the young child

Physical development is one of the three prime areas within the Early Years Foundation Stage(EYFS). Each prime area is divided into Early Learning Goals, for physical development these are:

  • Moving and handling – skills enabling children to show good control and coordination in large and small movements. Children are able to handle equipment and tools effectively, including pencils for writing.
  • Health and self care – children knowing the importance of good health which includes physical exercise and a healthy diet. Children are able to manage their own basic hygiene and personal needs successfully, including dressing and going to the toilet independently.

Encouraging physical development at home

It’s easy (and fun!) to practice physical skills with your child throughout the day. Here are some guidelines and activities to try:

The hand muscle of EY1 & 2 children is still under development. Parents can support children through following exercises to practice their movement and control skills.

  • Providing thick crayons or chalks for children to write and draw.
  • Providing children with pegs and asking them to help hang some small items such as socks and handkerchief at home.
  • When children have fruits or dumplings at home, adults can ask them to put the food in their own bowls by using tongs.
  • Playing Lego games together with them to help practice their hand-eye coordination skill.
  • Weather permitting, inviting them to do some appropriate outdoor exercises such as jogging and jumping.
  • Encouraging children to walk by themselves instead of hugging them when walking up and down stairs.
  • Dancing is a great way to develop coordination skills.
  • Reading a story together and act out what is happening – this is also a good way to develop imagination.
  • Poking and pinching playdough or clay helps to strengthen the fingers, hand and wrist.
  • Jigsaw puzzles and toys that fit together are good ways to develop hand control.
  • Threading things – pasta shapes, buttons or large beads – encourages fine finger movements.
  • Helping with simple chores around the home such as sweeping, tidying up toys, and lifting things develops and strengthens muscles.

Fine motor skill for EY3 & 4 children is developed better than EY1 & 2. At home, parents could also encourage them to do following exercises:

  • Encouraging children to zip the coat, button, take off, put on and tie the shoes by themselves.
  • When eating at home, we can encourage children to use chopsticks.
  • During outdoor play, parents can play with children such as football game, riding bicycle, bouncing the ball, rope skipping.
  • Encouraging children to do things by themselves and to help parents do what they can such as simple chores.
  • Besides using glue to make art crafts, children can also try using double-sided tape.
  • Helping your child to learn how to use simple tools such as scissors – practice makes perfect.
  • Using a squeezy bottle filled with water to shoot at a target or knock down a skittle.
  • Making a place to dig outside where children can develop muscle control and coordination.
  • Trying to make sure your child is physically active for at least three hours every day.

As we all know, besides exercise, a balanced diet, good routine and hygiene practices also play an important role in keeping children healthy. Here is what we can do to support them:

  • Providing balanced and healthy diet, taking good care of their daily life to ensure children grow and develop well.
  • Taking children for outdoor sports and play regularly to meet their needs of physical development.
  • Allowing children to do what they can do by themselves. During the process of doing things, their thinking skill and motor skill can be developed.
  • Helping children form regular life habit which will benefit them for their whole life.
  • Don’t overprotect children and don’t do things on behalf of them.